New campus in Silicon Valley | Google believes in offices

(Mountain View) Tech giants are hiring less and engineers have largely embraced remote work, but Google has just opened futuristic new offices in Silicon Valley designed to meet all of its employees’ current and even future needs.

Updated yesterday at 7:07am

Julie Jammot
Media Agency France

In Mountain View, 1.5 km as the crow flies from its headquarters, the Californian company has erected two huge buildings that look like tents made of glass and metal and are covered with solar panels in the shape of dragon scales.

Alphabet, Google’s parent company, did not disclose how much this “Bay View campus,” which will house up to 4,500 employees, will cost.

“I don’t think any of our buildings will be empty. We’re not worried,” jokes Michelle Kaufmann, head of research and development at the company’s headquarters, during a visit to the press.

“We’re more worried about whether we’ll have enough space. Because the business keeps growing,” she added.


PHOTO NOAH BERGER, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

At the end of March, Alphabet had around 164,000 employees worldwide (+17% in one year). In the San Francisco Bay Area alone, 45,000 people work for the tech giant.

Its neighbor Meta (Facebook, Instagram) and other big digital companies (Microsoft, Amazon, Nvidia, Snap, Uber, etc.) recently announced a slowdown in the pace of hiring due to the unfavorable economic environment, after hiring their own weapons during the pandemic.

connections and disconnections

Several companies such as Others, such as Twitter in San Francisco, have left the door open to working from home, as many engineers prefer this way of working. Some are also struggling to bring teams back in person, particularly because of fears of COVID-19.

“I believe that 10% of employees (at Google) have decided and managed to work primarily from home,” noted Michelle Kaufmann.


PHOTO NOAH BERGER, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

Michelle Kaufman

She hopes the new offices, designed well before the pandemic, will meet the expectations of other employees who split their week between face-to-face and remote work.

The ground floor consists of restaurants, cafes, gyms, and meeting spaces spread around several sofa-lined “public spaces” — from the Dinosaur District to the Neon Nature.

The floor houses modular offices, separated by various pieces of furniture but no walls, so teams “have the privacy they need” while “remaining connected to the rest of the community,” according to the architect.

Google hopes to encourage creativity and teamwork as more lonely tasks can be completed from home.


PHOTO NOAH BERGER, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

But beware of technology addiction: In the toilets, a note advises not to become addicted to the phone and also warns of “email apnea” (if you hold your breath while checking e-mail).

Purified water, natural air

It took five years to build these buildings with ambitious environmental standards. Alphabet has even pledged to be completely carbon-free by 2030.

This campus is carbon neutral “90% of the time” thanks to solar panels and geothermal batteries. All non-potable water needs are met with on-site produced recycled water.

And the ventilation systems use 100 percent outside air, “instead of 20 percent” on average in offices, explains Michelle Kaufmann.


PHOTO NOAH BERGER, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A feature that comes at the right time in times of the pandemic.

“Fortunately, many things that we had planned are working beautifully in relation to COVID-19,” notes the architect. “We thought we still had 10 years for some elements, but the virus has accelerated the process. »

It ensures that workspaces have been designed with the flexibility to meet demands that no one can yet imagine.

The “opera-like” acoustics will not be disturbed by many employees for the time being, because the new campus has only just opened.

Employees from other Google locations can stay for a few days in one of the 240 apartments that have been built directly across the street when visiting.

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